Sony Online Entertainment
2.4 of 5 74 reviews
www.sonyonline.com San Diego, CA 500 to 999 Employees

Sony Online Entertainment Reviews

Updated Apr 04, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.4 74 reviews

                             

28% Approve of the CEO

Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley

John Smedley

(57 ratings)

32% of employees recommend this company to a friend
74 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "It's game development, so that's always a little more fun and laid back than other companies"
    in 7 reviews
  • "At least it's a fairly stable job that allows you to enjoy living in San Diego"
    in 7 reviews
Cons:
  • "Upper management is too far removed from the actual development process to understand its huge flaws"
    in 11 reviews
  • "Senior management had no idea who you work (workflow) or some of the abuse you put up with dealing with customers"
    in 5 reviews
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

  • Culture & Values
         
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  • Career Opportunities
         
  • Disapproves of CEO

1 person found this helpful  

Okay start, but don't stick around

Game Designer (Current Employee)
San Diego, CA (US)

I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time for more than 5 years

ProsIt's pretty easy to get an entry level job
You have a decent chance of getting an apprenticeship for code/design/art/sound
It's pretty laid back

ConsManagement has absolutely no clue who's good and who's bad
Takes forever to get promoted, if you do
Nepotism rules all, so playing politics is better than being good at your job
Be ready to be micromanaged to the teeth

Advice to Senior ManagementFind some way to figure out how to judge your employees properly. Nobody likes to see someone with less experience and less talent get promoted while they are stuck stagnant because someone doesn't like them for whatever reason.

Remove the nepotism and judge based on performance.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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A great company to work for and great mentors

Environment Artist (Former Employee)
San Diego, CA (US)

I worked at Sony Online Entertainment as an intern for less than a year

ProsAs an intern, it is a very friendly environment to experience the life of a game artist. The people you work for and with are fun to be around and you can tell they love what they do. It is an all around creative environment where any kind of game artist can be inspired and learn important industry skills.

ConsHardly any cons. Sometimes the break room was out of a particular kind of tea or coffee, but this is bad only if you're picky.

Advice to Senior ManagementKeep doing what you are doing. Whatever it is it seems to be working.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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3 people found this helpful  

SOE opened up many doors but

Billing and Technical Customer Support (Current Employee)
San Diego, CA (US)

I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time for more than a year

ProsSwag, Perks, E3 and Fan Faire

ConsLaunch Days, Upper Management and lack of a decent break room.

Advice to Senior ManagementFor starters it helps to know your employee’s by first name or last instead of referring to them by the project they worked on Smed. Also it seems a lot of people at SOE made promise they never intended to keep from games credits to future job openings.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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3 people found this helpful  

Good start, but probably nowhere you'd want to stay.

QA Tester (Current Employee)
San Diego, CA (US)

I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time

ProsSOE is a good start to the gaming industry through their internship programs. They also seem to keep their contract workers and hire them on full-time. They provide decent project completion bonuses for the big ones, and direct management cares about their workers.

ConsCertain pet projects of upper management wind up having fairly significant changes demanded left and right - even on a friday afternoon the weekend before a beta launch. There seems to be a consensus among some employees that upper management makes very questionable decisions, particularly in regards to priorities. Too often, there would be a demand for a feature that imposed significant code change which would put the project months off schedule, and yet we'd be expected to somehow keep the schedule regardless.

Advice to Senior ManagementMake the marketing department talk to developers and qa before they announce upcoming features and release dates. Some features they think aren't much require significant code change and provide a long stressful hassle for the development and qa teams that could be avoided, or at least improved, by better communication.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Overall, a great experience.

Artist (Current Employee)

I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time for more than 10 years

ProsThe bottom line for upper management is to make good games, retain people over the long haul and provide them with a good way to make a living. They try to make it a fun place to work, and encourage life balance. Yes, making money is important to them, but money is a means to an end. They are loyal to employees as much as practicality will allow. They don't lay people off unless they have to.

ConsThe company has been struggling over the last few years. The games are often too confusing and complex for the general public. The last couple of games were very expensive and did not do as well as expected. They haven't found a way to make a good profit under the new free-to-play business model. Company morale is currently low.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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6 people found this helpful  

An overly complacent culture satisfied with mediocrity detached from the rest of the game development community.

Programmer (Former Employee)
San Diego, CA (US)

I worked at Sony Online Entertainment full-time for more than 3 years

ProsGood compensation, benefits, and some great, talented people if you know where to find them. Crunch times are rare. If you're very motivated, you might find opportunities to really improve technology. The underlying technology behind client-server communications works quite well. San Diego is a beautiful city.

ConsThere seems to be a prevailing culture that is content with relative mediocrity. Mediocre visual presentation quality, long loading times, poor frame rates, and frequent seconds long hitches and stalls are the norm here. There are technical reasons for these issues that are lost on the majority of the engineers who work there. Those engineers that bring invaluable experience from other game studios that produce far superior titles face an uphill battle as they attempt to explain how things can and should work better to technical leads. Some tech leads in particular are highly intelligent software engineers, but would be better suited to lead work on non gaming applications while they have little to no experience working at other game studios, and on top of it all, don't seem to even enjoy playing games very much, especially the competition. Micromanagement is often a big issue as well, and finding support when you really need it from tech leads is very challenging as they are spread too thin managing everybody else. Be prepared to be chastised for writing code that isn't compliant to an arbitrary personal standard even if it's highly legible, works flawlessly, and all but impossible to break.

Effective developer tools are largely non-existent here. Other engineers have an air or arrogance when it comes to realizing the importance of good tools as they seem to think that they are the ones that make the games and fail to support the real hands-on developers: designers and artists. There's a real failure to realize that good tools means faster development time, and faster development time also means superior quality of output since motivation can remain high.

Negative cash flow year after year with routine mass layoffs make company longevity outlook pessimistic. SOE employs hundreds of people, and despite working there for years, I have no idea who most of them are, and always wondered why despite there being so many people getting paid, the quality of work is abysmally low overall.

Advice to Senior ManagementStart completely over. Throw all the current crappy in-house developer tools away and make new ones. There are employees that are highly motivated to make great things happen. Find them and offer more incentive to succeed. Tech leads stop micromanaging engineers, and allow them to lead themselves as experts in their own specialties. Designate experts in all fields: graphics, animation, physics, sound, tools, and delegate supporting roles toward them rather than trying to be the point-man for everything.

– I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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1 person found this helpful  

Good times, not-so-good pay

QA Tester (Former Employee)
San Diego, CA (US)

I worked at Sony Online Entertainment as a contractor for more than a year

ProsThere was a lot of interdepartmental socialization and communication. I often felt like "part of the team" instead of "just a QA". Occasional chances for career paths out of QA. Occasional work-sponsored activities (e.g. parking-lot barbecues, movie days).

ConsZero job security. Baseline pay, even for QA, with little chance for improvement/raises. Politics and favoritism in upper department management. Occasional unprofessionalism from colleagues and managers.

Advice to Senior ManagementBe an advocate for your best people and a champion for quality!

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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3 people found this helpful  

You won't learn much, but at least it's a game job in San Diego

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Sony Online Entertainment

ProsAt least it's a fairly stable job that allows you to enjoy living in San Diego
It's game development, so that's always a little more fun and laid back than other companies

ConsNo one in upper management had a prior job where they learned first hand how to build and run a great organization.
The level you come in as is the level you're going to stay … forever.
There is a core circle of friends of the president, and then there's everyone else. Keep your opinions to yourself and just accept what you're asked to do.

Advice to Senior ManagementReplace yourselves with people who know how to build a successful company, not just one that manages to survive.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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4 people found this helpful  

Reactionary circle jerk while looking to recapture faded glory

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
San Diego, CA (US)

I worked at Sony Online Entertainment for more than a year

Pros- Some very smart engineers who have creative ideas.
- Benefits package is very good
- Filled with passionate gamers who are dying for a successful game
- Week off of Christmas without counting as PTO
- Lots of people in mid to lower levels that are pushing to make break thru changes

Cons- They make games that are just not fun, with no long-term sustainability other than a very small niche group.
- Weak marketing campaigns, and very low budget to do it on. Recycled ideas that show little originality. But are probably stuck there by low budgets for poorly performing games.
- Sweep under the rug or spin poor results of promotions, campaigns, game launches, etc... without ever holding anyone accountable.
- Finally starting to pay attention to analytics that other companies have recognized for years.
- Struggling to find a hit game caused them to reach to purchase some truly awful games (Bullet Run, Wizardry, Dragons Prophet) which are a waste of everyone's time.
- Way behind on technology for making and supporting games. A few key people in love with stuff they dreamed up as a "standard" that all games must use, but in reality is a poor excuse for what a modern tool or language or open-source standard could do for them.
- Cut QA teams so much that we can't do our job to the level we all want. Very little investment in tools or processes to make this aspect of the company better.
- All teams are on a shoe-string budget, so very little hiring to bring in help, reserves, or fresh blood. (Not sure but there seemed to only be one System Administrator in the whole company due to people leaving or getting layed off). Requests for work took a long time to get completed as the tech folks were always waiting on getting a server or support to work through legacy processes.
- Working with teams that say they are using "Agile" processes is frustrating. Compared to what other companies do to adhere to Agile, SOE just uses a term that allows management, Smed, or marketing, or seemingly anyone to throw more tasks (with very little requirements) into the "sprint". This caused delays, or frustrations. Sometimes a key part of the system being built would be completely dropped, but not because of priorities, but because necessary requirements were changed so many times that no one knew what they were trying to build. By the time it reached QA no one was able to tell us what it was we were supposed to test in detail.
- Bonuses are always a small fraction of what was promised as the games are not making the money they need to support the company.
- Rarely seem to finish strategic initiatives to allow future advances on game support or underlying technology.
- People that have innovative ideas that embrace new technologies, and who stand up to the "SOE lifers" that are protecting their archaic ways are often marginalized, let go, or back-stabbed to the point they become ineffective.

Advice to Senior ManagementMight be time to bring in some new senior people for game design, tech, and marketing departments. Long playing MMOs are out of style when they have no objective but to keep grinding. Consoles and mobile games with clear objectives are where the industry is heading. No one on staff (left) has any knowledge of this.
Lots of good people are endless frustrated by the over-promises, and failure to deliver on anything.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Awesome culture, but at a cost

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

I have been working at Sony Online Entertainment full-time for more than a year

ProsVery laid back. Dress-code, environment, work hours, etc.

ConsStruggling company, light on salaries, bonuses, raises, company events, etc.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at Sony Online Entertainment reviews and ratings - including employee satisfaction and approval ratings for Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley. All 74 reviews are posted anonymously by Sony Online Entertainment employees.